Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Bread: Order of Ingredients

My first bread ventures were made in a bread machine. My next step was pulling the dough out of the machine, then hand-shaping and baking in the oven. Now I usually make the dough in my stand mixer.

I have found that the order of adding ingredients to a bread machine pan actually matters, beyond keeping the yeast dry for a delayed-start loaf. I load my mixer this way also.

First add:
  • Liquid ingredients
  • Fats and oils
  • Dairy, including powdered milk
  • Salt
  • Flour; allow to mound in the center of the liquid
Make a bowl in the top of the flour, and place in it:
  • Sugar
  • Malt Powder
  • Ascorbic acid
  • Yeast; I prefer the "instant active" kind
Gently stir the sugars and yeast, blending some flour into it as well. Take care to keep it at the top of the flour mound, so it will stay dry during a delayed start cycle.

On the top, taking care not to spill the yeast, and yet trying to keep it out of the liquid, sprinkle:
  • Seeds
  • Oats
  • Spices
  • Dried fruits

  • If the dry yeast gets coated with oil, it will fail to get the water and sugar it needs to grow and raise the loaf.
  • Salt retards yeast growth.
  • I've heard that enzymes in milk can also retard yeast growth. When I use fresh milk, I scald it first, then cool it by adding the butter and water and pouring it into the mixer bowl so it doesn't cook eggs or kill the yeast. If your finger isn't burned by it, the yeast will be fine too.
  • Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) helps yeast grow better, especially in a rich recipe. I add about 1/8 teaspoon to most loafs.
  • Malt powder helps a loaf brown nicer, and helps the yeast grow. I add a teaspoon of it to every loaf. You can get it at stores that sell beer brewing supplies.
  • Yeast feeds on sugars, so I place it next to the sugars, malt, and ascorbic acid.

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